National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) secretary-general and spokesman Meas Vyrith said drug addicts who fled the Keo Phos drug rehabilitation centre in Preah Sihanouk province’s Stung Hav district on November 20 do not pose a high risk to society.
He said the relevant authorities are investigating the case and working to locate those who ran away to bring them back to the centre.
After moving from the Kraing Thnong rehabilitation centre in Phnom Penh to the Keo Phos drug rehabilitation centre, about 30 of the 83 drug addicts have fled.
“Actually, they are drug-affected individuals. We checked and treated them and they have been treated, but they are ready to rehabilitate, so their risk to create social problems is low,” he said.
Vyrith said he was aware of the escape, but could not resume work until December 10, when his self-quarantine ended following a trip abroad.
He said he was now at the Keo Phos Drug rehabilitation Centre verifying their identities and contacting their guardians. He said most drug-affected people, who were brought to the centre by their guardians, do not have a job or skill.
“They are considered as victims of drugs, and we have to give them jobs when they stay in the centre because most of them do not have a real job. They have to receive food and accommodation services from the government,” he said.
Krang Thnong rehabilitation centre director Pin Valda said he had sent a list of the 30 escapees to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to search for their addresses.
“The reason we contacted the court was because some of them were detained by the police. After the arrest, the police made a report to the court, so their names are in the court file,” he said.
Licadho deputy director Am Sam Ath agreed that drug users should be considered victims and should be treated at a rehabilitation centre.
But he cautioned that some drug users also cause a lot of problems for society. He observed that some of them committed crimes such as theft and robbery, and some beat their wives and children while under the influence of drugs.
“The drug problem is a concern. It will affect our country’s human resources in the future and affect social security. Therefore, all stakeholders must jointly prevent and crack down on drug-related activities,” he said.